I regularly hear about the amazing work being done in London’s primary schools; for instance I’ve visited a primary that runs its own radio station, and another that built its own science lab. But when Ark Conway Primary in Acton recently informed me that I was about to be featured as their Composer of the Week, I thought I’d better get over there as soon as possible, and investigate.
Ark Conway is in only its seventh year of operation. It opened in 2011 as a free school, but was soon adopted by the Ark Academy chain. It was great to speak to head of school Rebecca Ross-Wood, who has seen the school grow from just one class of first years to what it is now, a thriving establishment (an extra school building is about to open) with the best national KS1 results for two years in a row. I would love to think that this notable academic success is linked to their unusual focus on music for the whole school, with every child learning an instrument, and even a parents’ band in existence to support the ideal of music for everyone. Gathered together in the hall, the whole school sang (tunefully and cheerfully) a new song which they’d learned for the occasion.
This illuminating institution is perched just behind Western Avenue, one of London’s grim arterial roads, on the Wormholt Estate (pictured) which was built in the 1920s as a ‘poor man’s Hampstead Garden Suburb’. The present school building is the former Wormholt Public Library, a beautifully kept edifice from that era, whose bookish origins the presence of Ark Conway Primary seems to honour. I wish, and hope, the same will one day be said about the many other closed and chained-up libraries I regularly pass on my rounds.